Oprah. Madonna. Shania. They all have names that are instantly recognizable. As I was growing up, I always wished I had a memorable name. In fact, I was envious of my best friend Didi (her real name is Dineke (pronounced Deenika) but everyone called her Didi). Everyone instantly knew who she was. She was the only kid in the school and really, the entire city who had that name. I on the other hand have one of THE most common names ever. From 1970 (the year I was born) through to 1984, Jennifer was the single most popular girl’s name every single year. Every. Single. Year. 14 years of babies being born named Jennifer!! I feel for the other girls (now women) who also had to try to stand out among every other Jennifer out there. In my neighbourhood, there were 3 of us within half a block of each other!
When someone says “Oprah”, you know instantly who that is. Say the name Jennifer, Jen, Jenny, Jenn or Jennie and you have no idea who that is referring to. Even if Oprah wasn’t as famous as she is, known all over the world, there is no mistaking that anyone in her circle would know who she was. You can’t get more unique than “Oprah”.
So, how do you stand out in a sea of Jennifers? Well, it has a lot to do with your own approach to life. Just because you have one of the most common names on the planet doesn’t mean you are common or ordinary. You have some pretty spectacular gifts, talents, skills and abilities that no one on this planet has. Not even the Oprahs and the Didis of the world!
And you don’t need to change your name to stand out. Think about who you are and what you have to offer the world. Think about Ellen DeGeneres for a minute. Ellen is a lot more common name than Oprah, yet she has been able to make a name for herself. Say the name Ellen and she’s likely one of the first people to pop into your head (and my great-aunt’s name was Ellen!).
Step out into the world and show off who you are. You are not common. You are unique, despite having the top ranked name in the world. In fact, think of it this way. Jennifer must be a pretty spectacular name for so many people to have chosen to give it to their child. Embrace it and just know that you can be the next Oprah or Ellen if you want to.